If you're public about your sleep training, chances are you're going to get some shade thrown your way. Regardless of the method you choose, you'll hear about trauma, toxic stress, emotional stuntedness, neurological damage, you name it. I say enough. I don't advocate sleep training a newborn ever, but as far as I'm concerned an older kid is fair game. So if you're in the sleep training trenches, ignore the haters and focus on the benefits every mom enjoys when she finishes sleep training.
I started sleep training by accident. When my daughter could roll over, my partner and I transferred her from a bassinet next to our bed to a crib in her own room. I think she was somewhere around 8 months old when we'd finally had enough. She was fed, clean, dry, and just the right temperature, but she was screaming. Exhausted, my husband and I turned to each other and murmured, "F*ck it." We rolled over and let her cry. She lasted 10 minutes. From there, I did my research and used a night vision monitor, consistency, a solid bedtime routine, and yes, cry it out, and my daughter was sleeping through the night in less than a week.
Attachment parents can scream at me all they want, because I know without a doubt that my daughter is well-adjusted, bonded, and happy. Sleep training wasn't easy, but now that it's over I'm enjoying the following perks:
A Full Night's Sleep
It's amazing how eight hours of sleep can transform me from the evil b*tch monster of death to some semblance of an actual person. Do you know how many caffeinated beverages I need to function when my kid and I sleep through the night? One.
A Rested Baby
Turns out well-rested babies aren't angry, heinous beasts — I mean fussy — during the day. According to Parenting Science, sleep deprivation in babies is associated with poor emotional regulation. Because duh. A rested baby is a happy baby, and who doesn't love a happy baby?
Time With Her Partner
Oh hi! I remember you, husband-type person. I think I used to do things with you, and it was nice. New parenthood can be hard on a marriage, as a baby naturally takes center-stage. Finding time to be together can be a real challenge, but sleep training buys you a few precious hours for adult activities (you know, conversation, sex, Trivial Pursuit, and pottery).
A Freaking Break
Nothing like being a mom to make you want to hide in the pantry and scream, "Leave me aloooooooooooone!" When you're at the beck and call of a tiny, militant dictator all freaking day, it's only natural to want a break. When you've completed sleep training, you get some hard-earned breathing space.
Netflix & Wine
The time between your baby going down for the night and when you get under the covers was specifically designed for two purposes: the viewing of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and the consumption of pinot noir. Or Anne With an E and raspberry cordial, The Walking Dead and moonshine, or, you know, whatever floats your boat.
Any parent understands that, counterintuitive as it may seem, a tired baby doesn't sleep well. You learn pretty early on the sleep begets sleep, especially after an evening spent trying to coax your exhausted infant to go the f*ck to sleep. When you do nighttime sleep training you get to enjoy better naps during the day, because your kid knows how to go down awake and fall asleep on their own. Magical.
Her Kid Recognizes Signs Of Sleepiness
Now this doesn't happen every day (and certainly didn't occur when my daughter was 8 months old). We have set nap (after lunch between noon and 1:00) and bedtimes (between 7:00 and 8:00), but sometimes my kid gets tired before then and will actually request to go "night night." She knows she's tired and needs to have a little lie-down, and I'm ecstatic that she's listening to her body.
A Peaceful Bedtime Routine
Bedtime is my favorite time of the day. No, really. I get my little girl in her pajamas, we watch her deployed daddy's goodnight video, give kisses to the dog and cat, brush her teeth, and read exactly three books. I say the same little phrase I've always said as I place her in her crib and kiss her two little feet. Then I leave, and that's it. I don't come back until I see her smiling face in the morning. Believe me, not fighting to establish a set bedtime is how you want to end your day.
No More Night Waking
This is not without exception. My daughter wakes in the night when she's sick or when she's had a nightmare. But, in general, once she's down I'm in the clear for the next 12 hours. That's not to say she doesn't wake up. She just knows how to self-soothe so she'll emit a little cry, stick her thumb in her mouth, roll over, and go back to sleep. And that, ladies and gentleman, is a life skill.
Since my daughter was born we've traveled to 10 different states and two foreign countries. You can go anywhere when you don't rely on a bunch of sleep props. I mean, a rocking chair and a swing aren't exactly portable. Sleep training mamas work hard, so I say they absolutely deserve a vacation. Maybe the best part of finishing sleep training is that they can actually take one.